As Hanukkah starts, here’s a look at 5 Jewish Medal of Honor recipients


Since the Medal of Honor was instituted there have been 3,473 recipients; at least 27 American Jews have received the medal for their actions starting in the American Civil War through the Vietnam War. As the eight days of Hanukkah starts, here’s a look at 5 of those who have earned the U.S. military’s highest honor:

1. Sgt. Maj. Abraham Cohn, U.S. Army (Civil War)

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“During Battle of the Wilderness rallied and formed, under heavy fire, disorganized and fleeing troops of different regiments. At Petersburg, Va., … bravely and coolly carried orders to the advanced line under severe fire.”

2. 1st Sgt. Sydney G. Gumpertz, U.S. Army (World War I)

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“Gumpertz left the platoon of which he was in command and started with 2 other soldiers through a heavy barrage toward the machinegun nest. His 2 companions soon became casualties from bursting shells, but 1st Sgt. Gumpertz continued on alone in the face of direct fire from the machinegun, jumped into the nest and silenced the gun, capturing 9 of the crew.”

3. 2nd Lt. Raymond Zussman, U.S. Army (World War II)

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“[R]econnoitered alone on foot far in advance of his remaining tank and the infantry … Fully exposed to fire from enemy positions only 50 yards distant, he stood by his tank directing its fire … Again he walked before his tank, leading it against an enemy-held group of houses, machinegun and small arms fire kicking up dust at his feet. … Going on alone, he disappeared around a street corner. The fire of his carbine could be heard and in a few minutes he reappeared driving 30 prisoners before him.”

4. Cpl. Tibor Rubin, U.S. Army (Korean War)

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“During a 24-hour battle, he slowed the advance of an assault of Chinese troops allowing other personnel with the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Although he was severely wounded in the battle and subsequently captured by Chinese forces he chose to remain in Chinese prison despite offers of an early release. While detained he risked his own safety by sneaking out at night and breaking into enemy food stores and gardens to find food for other soldiers and providing medical care to the sick and wounded prisoners.”

5. Airman 1st Class John Levitow, U.S. Air Force (Vietnam War)

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“Although severely wounded himself from a mortar round, he moved another wounded crew member to safety. He then used his own body to smother and move a smoking flare from within the cargo compartment of the aircraft and threw it from the back of the plane as it separated and ignited in the air as it cleared the aircraft.”